Field Trip Friday: USS North Carolina

Have you ever heard of a mechanical cow? That was one of the many exciting things we found aboard the USS North Carolina, a retired battleship and floating memorial to the citizens of North Carolina who served and died during the Second World War.


We have been enjoying our study of World War II and were excited to be able to include this trip to a World War II battleship. The USS North Carolina is located in Wilmington, NC and open for tours 365 days of the year. While not all of the ship is open for tours there is a lot available to see. You start inside the welcome center with a short video explaining the history of the vessel and how it came to rest in Wilmington. Then there is a small museum with some great artifacts from the ship on display. We also found the volunteer interpreters to be quite knowledgeable and engaging.

Then you walk onto the teak deck of the ship. It is amazing just to realize the true size of the ship, all 729 feet of her. They even have one of the sea planes still on display on the deck. The self guided tour takes at least two hours.  You can go up in one of the main gun turrets and see how tight the quarters were, very little has changed since her active service. This allows visitors to have a great look at what life would have been like aboard a major warship during the 1940s.

Next, you can go down below deck and see the various parts of the living and working spaces. This ship is like a small floating town, home to almost 2,400 men. There were galleys (or kitchens), dining halls, doctors and dentists, offices, bunks, radio rooms, a small store, printing room, barbership and even a post office.  I mentioned the mechanical cow earlier; we found this down below near the store and post office. This is a machine that used water and butter to make milk for drinking and to serve the ships ice creamery. These ingredients stored longer than fresh milk and according to the sailors accounts made much better milk than powdered milk.

One thing we found very beneficial on our tour was purchasing the app to help guide us and give us more details and stories about various parts of the ship. Purchasing a code from the ticket office was only $1.50 and there was a tremendous amount of information on the app. We were not able to listen and watch everything but much of it is available even after you leave so we plan to continue to use the app to learn more about the ship as we finish up our studies.

Where: USS North Carolina, located in Wilmington, NC

Hours of Operation:

Labor Day-Memorial Day 8 am-5pm

Memorial Day-Labor Day 8am -8pm

Costs: Home school rates:

  • Preschool: FREE

  • Students K – 6th grades: $3 each

  • Students 7th – 12th grades: $6 each

If a home school has more 10+ students, one teacher/adult will be admitted for free per 10 students. If a home school has less than 10 students, ALL adults are $10 each.

Homeschool Discount: Yes, Monday-Friday during traditional school year (bring proof of homeschool status)


Food: There are vending machines on site and restaurants with-in easy driving distance. There are also tables and benches available for picnics.



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